The Maternity Benefit Act,1961

By Savithri Subramanian
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An Act to regulate the employment of women whether directly or through any agency, for wages in any establishment for a certain period before and after child-birth (includes a still-born child) and to provide for maternity benefit and certain other benefits.

Application of Act:

  • It extends to the whole of India
  • All or any of the provisions of this Act shall apply to be a factory, mine or plantation. Also, to any other establishment or class of establishments, industrial, commercial, agricultural or otherwise.

Employment of, or work by, women prohibited during certain period:

(a) A period of one month immediately preceding the period of six weeks, before the date of her expected delivery;

(b) No employer shall knowingly employ a woman in any establishment during the six weeks immediately following the day of her delivery or her miscarriage.

Right to payment of maternity benefit

Subject to the provisions of this Act, every woman shall be entitled to, and her employer shall be liable for, the payment of maternity benefit at the rate of the average daily wage for the period of her actual absence immediately preceding and including the day of her delivery and for the six weeks immediately following that day.

(1) Such cash allowances (including dearness allowance and house rent allowance) as a woman are for the time being entitled to;

(2) Incentive bonus; and

(3) The money value of the concessional supply of food grains and other articles.

But does not include –

(i) Any bonus other than incentive bonus;

(ii) Overtime earnings and any deduction or payment made on account of fines;

(iii) Any contribution paid or payable by the employer to any pension fund or provident fund or for the benefit of the woman under any law for the time being in force; and

(iv) Any gratuity payable on the termination of service;

Payment or maternity benefit in case of death of a woman:

If a woman entitled to maternity benefit or any other amount under this Act dies before receiving such maternity benefit or the amount the employer shall pay such benefit or amount to the person nominated by the woman in the notice given under section 6 and in case there is no such nominee, to her legal representative.

Nursing breaks. –

Every woman delivered of a child who returns to duty after such delivery shall, in addition to the interval for rest allowed to her, be allowed in the course of her daily work two breaks of the prescribed duration for nursing the child until the child attains the age of fifteen months.

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Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017

  1. The Maternity Benefit Amendment Act has increased the duration of paid maternity leave available for women employees from the existing 12 weeks to 26 weeks
  2. Maternity leave of 12 weeks to be available to mothers adopting a child below the age of three months from the date of adoption as well as to the “commissioning mothers”. The commissioning mother has been defined as a biological mother who uses her egg to create an embryo planted in any other woman.
  3. The Maternity Benefit Amendment Act has also introduced an enabling provision relating to “work from home” for women, which may be exercised after the expiry of the 26 weeks’ leave period and can avail this benefit on terms that are mutually agreed with the employer.
  4. The Maternity Benefit Amendment Act makes crèche facility mandatory for every establishment employing 50 or more employees. Women employees would be permitted to visit the crèche 4 times during the day (including rest intervals)
  5. The Maternity Benefit Amendment Act makes it mandatory for employers to educate women about the maternity benefits available to them at the time of their appointment.

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